Critics of traditional teaching
IntroThe following critiques of traditional teaching methods came from proponents of fighting systems/organizations that are supposedly "different" and "better suited for self-defense" than traditional martial arts. These critics probably have been "different" from the norm their entire lives, and their schools seem to attract others who are likewise "different." Since most potential students are not "different," these schools are usually local, small, and not commercially viable. When you are a full-time school owner whose only income is from students, you will find you cannot survive if you only accept "different" students, you teach "differently," or you use tactics that scare students away.
Traditional teaching methodInstructors and students use titles, such as sifu, sensei, and sabum, or master, sir, ma'am, Mr. Jones, or Ms. Smith to maintain a proper sense of respect in school.
Critics sayThis comes from a military influence in the martial arts. Students show respect by being quiet and listening to you, not by using titles from a different language. By using first names, you demonstrate a sense of togetherness and oneness.
TKDTutor saysCritics seem to think it’s the military that fosters this social tradition of respecting different classes of people. If this type of thinking has validity, you would think other areas of society would think the same way. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first the class structure in society or the military? Humans, as well as other animals, have a class structure. Examples in the animal world are the pecking order in chickens and the pack structure of wolves. Class structure helps people understand the world around them and how they relate to it. Just look around you and you see other instances in society where titles are used and where it is considered disrespectful to use first names. For examples: your doctor, your pastor, your parents, your teacher, your professor, etc. or a police officer or a government official.
When respect is not shown when addressing people, they lose respect for you. If you permit your child to address you by your first name, the child will no longer view you as the person in authority who sets standards and enforces them. Instead, you will be viewed as a friend who is expected to support everything the child does without criticism.
It is true the military uses titles as a sign of respect. They keep using this method because it helps maintain good order and discipline, which helps them maintain a strong fighting force.
Traditional teaching methodStudents line up and bow in and out of class, and must acknowledge commands in unison.
Critics sayThis stems from teaching methods derived from the military. It is not the way that ancient samurai or hwarang warriors trained and it is not the way we should train today.
TKDTutor saysAgain, the military! I would dare say that people who accuse the military way as bad probably have problems accepting authority from any part of society. Controlling a class of five or six students if not too difficult since when you tell a student to do or not to do something eye contact will usually suffice to ensure the order was understood. In a large class of martial arts students, where safety is an even greater concern and instructor must ensure every student hears, understands, and complies with all instructions, each student must acknowledge all orders. Go to an aerobics class or a pep rally. How does the leader increase interest and energy levels? They get the people to be vocal. Also, how do these critics know how the samurai and hwarang taught classes?
Too much, too fast
Traditional teaching methodYou must NOT give your students too much information, too fast.
Critics sayThis is perhaps the stupidest myth associated with martial arts. It may apply to a teacher of forms and techniques, but should never be a concern to a fighter. If it is a concern, then the fighter lacks the most valuable commodity a fighter can have—imagination. How can you run out of an art that has no limitations? This method of teaching is because of commercialization; "if you sell all the merchandise on your shelves no one will come back to the store.
TKDTutor saysYou may give any type of student too much information, too fast. In a mental educational environment, teachers must always be mindful of presenting too much information too quickly, so that students will remember the information and, most of all, comprehend the information. In a physical educational environment, such as a martial arts class, students must understand and comprehend how to perform a technique, but they must also physically perform the technique in an effective manner.
Knowing many techniques will not make you a better fighter; being able to use techniques effectively makes you a better fighter. Bill Wallace was a world champion full-contact fighter, who basically only used one leg for kicks. To train for a self-defense situation, you only need to practice using a few techniques under many different circumstances, such as the Koga Method of police tactics. When you learn too many techniques superficially, when self-defense is required, you must decide which one to use in a given situation.
However, you also must not present information too slowly. Due to the influence of the internet, we are constantly bombarded with information. To cope with this, children and perceptive adults have learned to assimilate information quickly. If you have ever driven at a hundred miles an hour for an extended period, and then had to slow to 70 miles per hour, you know how boring the slower, but still high, speed seems. Today’s students are used to information coming at them hot and heavy. If it does not, they get bored. If you do not keep students stimulated, they will leave.
Good instructors learn to "read" their students' abilities to comprehend and process information and adjust the amount of information being presented accordingly.
Traditional teaching methodYou must not associate with your students in an informal way or they will lose their respect for you.
Critics sayStudents who would lose interest in training because they realize their instructor is a mortal human is not the kind of students we want at our school.
TKDTutor saysMost professors are encouraged not to become socially involved with individual students. In the military, leaders may sometimes be punished for becoming socially involved with individual subordinates. Group events, such as a student picnic are not a problem and are encouraged. This critique relates to the previously discussed critique on respect. As an instructor, you are friendly and sociable to all students, but you are a professional instructor, not their friend. As an instructor, you must make decisions and take actions that are in the best interests of the school and other students, including reprimanding and expelling students. If the student is a "friend" then the decision may be difficult and even delayed until it becomes a bigger problem. Students are customers, not friends. How many friendships have been ruined over business decisions?
Traditional teaching methodYou should refer to and treat people differently depending on whether they are "senior" or "junior" in your art.
Critics sayThis method is wrong in that it demonstrates the difference between a beggar and a warrior. The beggar bows for any man he deems to be greater than he is, while also demanding that any man he deems to be lesser to bow before him. The warrior bows to no man and allows no man to bow to him. We should emulate the warrior.
TKDTutor saysEver have to deal with a worker's union. They may negotiate over pay and benefits, but they will fight to the death over seniority. The apprentice welder is not the same as the master welder; the apprentice carries the tools for the master welder. Samurai and hwarang warriors had levels of seniority, as do current military warriors. Is coronel less a warrior because he or she salutes a general or returns the salute of a private? The same people who have had difficulty in accepting any type of authority in their lives have no concept of respecting the achievements of senior people.